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TUF 22: Episode 7 Recap – Thrift Stores, Absinthe, Team Spats, and Swedish Rage

AJ Camacho

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On our last episode, Julian Erosa defeated Mehdi Baghdad by majority decision retaining control for team Faber. Faber chose the taekwondo styling of Thanh Le to face the respectable grappling of Sweden’s Martin Svensson.

Immediately, the bout is framed as a classic striker versus grappler match-up. Thanh Le’s flashy kicks and taekwondo background have framed him as an explosive striker with suspect grappling skills. Conversely, Svensson is being billed as a solid grappler with a stand-up game that nobody seems to want to comment on or discuss.

In an aside interview, Svensson derides leg locks, wrestling, and outside fighting as ridiculous MMA strategies that go against the spirit of the sport. The criticisms seem a bit bizarre as if he’s oddly typifying himself as some sort of Swedish Forest Griffin styled brawler. He’s essentially shitting all over grappling dominance despite the fact that he’s being pushed as a grappler in this fight.

Immediately, I begin to wonder if Svenson got the memo. Is he on the same page with his coaches? Even Conor is throwing me off as he’s teaching Svenson fundamental half guard escapes. The sort of moves you pull if you want to get back to your feet and brawl. The sort of essentials you see in an introductory BJJ class. Did Conor see a crack in Svensson’s grappling?

Back at the house we’re treated to the voyeur eroticism that is Team USA’s NOS victory bath. Apparently NOS energy drink is to the TUF house what Unobtainium was to the planet Pandora (the planet in the movie Avatar, that goofy movie with the blue people who have sex through brain tentacles) as Artem Lobov is sincerely offended by US’s waste of this vital resource. Here in the TUF house, though, people use NOS to get cranked or just to lather themselves up in victorious glee.

In the gym, team McGregor’s striking coach, Owen Roddy, develops a strategy for Svensson to time his kicks in order to off balance Thanh while neutralizing his kicking game. Again, confusion sets in for me. The grappler of the bout is going over what are typically long-range fighting tactics. This isn’t too insane, though, as a key way to negate kicks from a kicker is to kick them first. However, with so little time before the bout, it seems like a tall order to have Svensson dialing in these precision timed kicks.

On team Faber, Thanh Le’s strategy seems perfectly in line with my expectations. His drills seem focused on dictating the range of the fight in order to keep Svenson right at the end of Le’s shin. Le is confident in his own ground game but, for safety Faber shows Le some slick back escapes reiterating the team’s intention to keep the fight standing.

Julian Erosa Versus Chris Gruetzemacher
INTERNAL SPAT BREAKDOWN

In their best attempt at imitating a Nine Inch Nails video, Team Faber’s Julian Erosa and Chris Gruetzemacher decide to crack the seal on a bottle of absinthe. A jocular game of billiards and shots progressively turns into a macho dick measuring contest as the fun ball busting erodes into awkward tension. Erosa calls Chris’ fight the most boring in the tournament. Drunk and face to face with an oddly timed blunt criticism, Chris doesn’t take kindly to the comment. They start D&D larping a theoretical bout between themselves until Chris begins dousing Erosa with remnant ass ends of left over backwash beers that have been lying around the pool. Erosa is oddly calm before he starts calling out Chris to fight him on the spot. Artem Lobov, waking up from NOS withdrawals, jumps in to break up the spat. Everybody runs outside to split the two up and quell the dispute. In the morning, they wake up like resetting cartoon characters as if none of it ever happened.

The next morning, in an effort to ridicule Conor McGregor, team Faber goes thrift store shopping. They buy up all of the women’s slacks and blazers just to mimic that tailored McGregor fit. Like tweens in their mother’s closet, the group has a blast in a mini dress up montage.

Thank god, the fight is up next. Sven’s pre-fight hype monologue musters all of the violence and thrills of a Roadrunner cartoon as he describes himself punching Thanh through the mat and making a crater-like hole in the floor. Swedish savagery.

FIGHT RECAP

ROUND 1:
The round began slowly, both fighters sizing each other up at range. Thanh Le did well keeping out of reach and darting in & out with some classical Team Alpha Male angles. Martin Svensson timed a slick kick – as planned – connecting as Thanh threw his own kick. Thanh was dropped to the mat.

Half guard, side control… Svensson was ironically methodical and conservative with his grappling. Thanh failed to wall walk, showing no desire to get back to the fence and up to his feet. He actually turned the wrong way exposing his back to Svensson before he could get up and scrape the Swede off of his back against the fence.

Back on the feet again, Thanh rocked Svensson with a right cross finishing the round dropping fists and bows on the grounded Svensson. Svensson would survive and the round would end.

ROUND 2:
Again Thanh came out headhunting with his long right cross barely missing his mark. Svensson used stiff leg kicks to keep Thanh at bay and out of rhythm to throw his signature kicks. Out of seeming frustration, Svensson lunged for a loose telegraphed shot, but Thanh stalled like a dear in headlights caught between wanting a kimura grip or a sprawl. The hesitation almost cost Thanh his back in a drawn out grappling exchange back to the ground. Thanh shows that he knows how to escape a body lock from back control, but otherwise Svensson had his way with Thanh, seamlessly floating back and forth from half guard to back control.

Still on the ground, Thanh momentarily makes space with his legs, but flails with a loose open guard rather than getting back to his feet. He gifts the pass, the transition to the back, and the subsequent rear naked choke.

Official decision, Martin Svensson defeats Thanh Le by rear naked choke.

With control back to Conor, team Europe chooses Artem Lobov vs James Jenkins for next week’s matchup.

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Conor McGregor

Conor McGregor has ‘Every intention of fighting in 2018’

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Despite being inactive since his historic boxing bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr. in August, Conor McGregor is never far from the headlines. Recently his out of cage antics have got people questioning if he’ll ever be back.

Thankfully the UFC lightweight champion appears to have cleared up any rumors about his fighting career.

Speaking to his sponsor Betsafe, the “Notorious” Conor McGregor said “My focus is getting back into the right ring or octagon. 2017 was historic. I have transcended both the sport of MMA and boxing. At this stage of my career, as it has been for the majority of my UFC career, potential opponents must lobby for fights with me. We could see Conor McGregor anywhere. I run the fight game, the fashion game, the whiskey game or whatever the next business endeavor might be”.

McGregor added, “I have every intention of fighting in 2018 if my compensation and business development endeavors accurately reflect my influence on combat sports.”

This comes just two weeks after UFC President Dana White told reporters “Conor might never fight again. The guy’s got $100 (expletive) million. I’ve got guys that made less than that and were lawyers and went to school their whole life and quit working.”

White went on to say “Try to get up and get punched in the face every day when you’ve got $100 million in the bank. Money changes everything with a lot of people.”

White also told reporters that the “Notorious one”, “can’t be paid enough money” and that he is “worth every penny and more.” McGregor’s recent statement suggests he knows that and won’t be back till his demands are met.

The UFC lightweight division has been stalled in the absence of the champion McGregor and now the interim champion Tony Ferguson has undergone surgery. The UFC has been known the remove belts from fighters who have been delayed for extended amounts of time, this would be highly unlikely with the popularity of McGregor.

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Will Conor McGregor ever fight again?

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The future of the UFC’s biggest ever star is in doubt. But it was also never a secret. “The Notorious” Conor McGregor always made his intentions clear, “Get in. Get rich. Get out”. And now he’s rich, very rich.

In 2008 at the age of 20 a baby-faced, clean-shaven McGregor stated his ambitions for his MMA career after just 5 professional fights. He said “My dream is to be world champion in the UFC, have more money than I know what to do with, and have a great life for my kids, my grandkids, everyone in my family, everyone that’s come up with me. That’s my dream”.

Along his journey, McGregor has never kept his intentions to himself. At first, it was to get into the UFC. Then it was the featherweight belt. Then it was to replicate what he had done in his previous promotion, to become the UFC’s first simultaneous two-weight world champion.

The issue now is that McGregor has achieved everything he has set out to do. From world titles to being a multi-millionaire, he’s done it all. And now there is no statement of intent. No dream to chase.

Since he’s achieved everything he said he ever wanted, where does the hunger for more come from? Currently, it doesn’t appear to be there.

Since the last time we saw McGregor with gloves on, the charismatic Irishman has seemingly gone off the rails. There was the Bellator 187 incident in Dublin, where McGregor stormed the cage and pushed veteran referee Marc Goddard and slapped an official. But more recently the Irish Daily Mail has reported that McGregor was involved in a bar fight in his native Crumlin, where he is believed to have punched an associate of a major crime gang in Dublin. Whether this is true or not, it is still something a UFC champion and role model shouldn’t be associated with.

From the outside, McGregor’s life is more about hours spent at the club rather than the gym.

But who can blame the man for enjoying the fruits of his labor? He is acting how most 29-year-old men would if they had just received $100 million.

This is his life’s work paying off.

After McGregor’s loss at UFC 196, he wanted an immediate rematch against Nate Diaz at the same weight. It showed us he’s a true martial artist with the heart of a lion. It showed his desperation to get that win back and prove he is the better competitor. And when he won, he proved all his doubters wrong as he walked on crutches through the corridor of the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas screaming “doubt me now”.

But after his loss to Mayweather Jr., there has seemingly been no desire to arrange a fight to get back in the win column.

It’s easy to forget during this period of inactivity that McGregor is one of the most active guys in MMA. From UFC 194 to UFC 205, McGregor competed in 4 fights at 3 different weight classes against high caliber opponents inside the space of 11 months. The truth is he deserves a well-earned rest.

 

Conor McGregor UFC 205

However, in a recent media scrum, Dana White confirmed that Conor was looking to fight before the end of the year but had been pulled from UFC 219 as punishment for the incident at Bellator 187.

Dana also told the reporters in the room “Conor might never fight again. The guys got $100 million. I’ve got guys that made less than that and were lawyers and went to school their whole life and quit working”.

White also said, “Try and get up and get punched in the face every day when you’ve got $100 million in the bank”.

The two statements from Dana are very contradicting as he isn’t sure McGregor will ever fight again, but at the same time he wanted to fight on December 30th. Maybe Dana is struggling to pick apart the mind of Conor McGregor as much as we are.

There are plenty of reasons why Conor should never come back.

Not only is he set for life but he’s also healthy. McGregor is extremely conscious about his health and has mentioned several times throughout his career about the importance of keeping your brain healthy.

But there are plenty of reasons why he should he come back.

He loves to fight and he loves making money. He needs to capitalize on that whilst he can.

McGregor doesn’t have to settle for one big payday, he has matchups waiting for him such as Ferguson, Diaz, and GSP. There is always the welterweight belt and his Croke Park dream. And the door is open for a return to boxing, especially with fighters like De La Hoya, Pacquiao, and Malignaggi calling him out.

He’s also at the peak in terms of age and physique and in terms of power. Where he has the whole MMA world on strings with every small move he makes.

There is no knowing if McGregor will ever fight again. If McGregor returns to his usual self, he will likely be back in the first quarter of 2018, where he will fight frequently. But as time ticks on and there is no fight announcement McGregor may be stripped of his belt never to be seen again.

He got in. He got rich. Is he out? Let us know.

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Manny Pacquiao Hints at Possible 2018 Fight with Conor McGregor

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Here we go again. Just when we thought Conor McGregor was set on a return to the octagon, boxing legend Manny Pacquiao has seemingly called out the charismatic Irishman with his latest Instagram post.

It appears the current senator of the Philippines also wants a trip on the money train that is Conor McGregor, as he sent out this cryptic message on his Instagram.

Happy Thanksgiving! Stay fit my friend. #realboxingmatch #2018 @thenotoriousmma

A post shared by Manny Pacquiao (@mannypacquiao) on

The caption reads “Happy thanksgiving! Stay fit my friend. #realboxingmatch #2018 @thenotoriousmma”.

This comes a week after retired boxer Oscar De La Hoya claimed he has been secretly training for a bout with “The Notorious One.” Speaking on ‘Golden Boy Radio with Tattoo and the Crew’, De La Hoya claimed “I’m faster than ever and stronger than ever. I know I can take out Conor McGregor out in two rounds”.

After his most recent loss to Australian boxer Jeff Horn, retirement looked imminent for ‘Pac-Man’. But a shot at McGregor and the pay day his name brings, appears to be far too tempting.

McGregor loves to test himself and he loves money. So he will be licking his lips just thinking about the opportunity to get back in the ring against a high calibre opponent like Pacquiao. Not just to make money, but to prove his doubters wrong after his boxing debut against Floyd Mayweather Jr.

McGregor’s immediate future looks set to be a fight with Tony Ferguson in 2018. But after that who knows what the future holds for the UFC lightweight champion.

If McGregor’s next fight is a boxing match with Pacquiao, then it could spell the end of his title reign. As Ferguson likes to say it’s ‘defend or vacate’ time.

 

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